20 October 2010

Inside the book tour: Something building

Joseph Beth

Cincinnati, Ohio – Back online. On a book tour, technical challenges every day. Something is different about this book tour. Bigger crowds, more enthusiastic, people coming from greater distances, buying more books. Maria is with me, and that's different, and Izzy is with me and that's different. I guess the biggest change – noticed by many of the people who come, some who have seen me before, is that I am different.

More relaxed, they say. Happier. Evolved. I have to digest this and absorb it. I am also getting a truly enormous response to the photography. Another thing that is different is Facebook, which has opened up a dialogue with readers that has brought many more people, and engaged them in my work. The people are by no means uncritical. Many like my work, but have penetrating and thoughtful and challenging questions about it. Still, there is a good feeling. I have been on a lot of book tours, and this one is different. The tour seems to be building as I move through it, as people have read the novel and connected with it, and have thoughts and questions about it.

Fewer questions about dogs, more about writing, which I appreciate. People ask me if I want to write about dogs in need of rescue.I say no. People ask me if I want to write about how dogs grieve for people and one another. No, not much. There is enormous interest in my book in animal grieving "Going Home: Finding Peace When Animals Die." That is coming out next year. Bookstore event managers are asking me back.

I am very happy to report that the mood in bookstores is very different than last year. Borders stores in particular say sales are up an morale is high. There is much talk about e-books but the bookstores see booming new niche markets, not an obliteration of paper books. Older people, military people, genre readers, young adults are natural e-book readers. But th bookstores I am visiting are busy, engaged, creative. There is tremendous interest in my book tour and the different ways I am using technology to bring people to events and to engage readers in different kinds of conversations. I a loving this book tour, as is obvious. And we are selling lots of Family Farm notecards. Eager to get to some small libraries and continue the conversation.

Perhaps the biggest change for me is Maria, who I introduce as my former girlfriend (I love saying that). I have never shared a book tour with a dog and someone I love before and perhaps that makes it the most wonderful book tour of all. On to Kentucky.